Friday, January 20, 2012

Why We Love Raising Chickens :)

Today I want to explain a little about how easy it is to raise chickens, how chickens provide food security in an unstable world, how fun chickens are to keep, and why we keep chickens for eggs.

We think it’s a very important step in homesteading, and was one of the earliest ones we made.

Here are six of the main reasons we love raising chickens;

1. Nutrition – This is probably the most obvious reason we raise chickens. Our eggs are fresh and from well-treated, healthy chickens allowed to free range during the day, with supplemental grain in the evening. Our chickens are eating lots of good, natural things (like insects and plants) that make the eggs much healthier than the caged, solely grain-fed chickens that store-bought eggs come from. (Although during the months we have snow on the ground, they’re eating mostly grain, with food scraps as a supplement to vary their diet. That’s the best we can do in our northern climate!).

2. Keeping chickens saves money (well, sort of) – If you buy the expensive cage-free, organic eggs in the store, then raising your own chickens will definitely save you money. We used to buy the cheapest eggs in the grocery store, but that was before I learned so much about where those eggs come from! If I were to buy eggs now, I would spend the extra money on healthier, cage-free eggs (from a local farmer, if possible!). So in that respect, keeping chickens saves us money. We also keep enough chickens that we can sell some of our eggs, helping to off-set the cost of keeping them.

3. The coop was all set up for us, making it an easy first step – Most people don’t have this blessing. When we moved in, the people who lived here before us had kept chickens. They had a stall in the barn already set up as a coop, with nesting boxes, roosts, and all the feeding/watering equipment we would need. I fully recognize that most people starting out homesteading don’t have this luxury! But it made getting chickens an easy step for us to take, with minimal investment.

Here are a few more of the reasons we love keeping chickens.

4. Raising chickens really is easy! – People are always surprised when I tell them how EASY it is to raise chickens! Our daily routine is simple. We collect eggs and check water and food supply twice a day. We don’t spend more than 15-20 minutes total on an average day caring for the chickens. Once a month (more or less depending on need), we spend a little extra time to clean out the coop well, change the bedding, etc. It’s really that easy!

5. Food security – We live in a very unstable world these days. If you pay attention to the news, even a little, you know that our economy is shaky (at best), there are threats and violence throughout the world, and it’s debatable whether our government has our best interest in mind. Add to these concerns that the majority of our food supply is shipped in from far-away places, rather than produced locally, and one interruption in the supply chain could devastate us. Given these worries, and others that I don’t have the space to detail in this one post, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. There are lots of ways to be prepared for an emergency situation, and one of those ways is to raise chickens. Yes, in chickens you have a continual food supply (both eggs and meat). Not to mention, eggs provide nutrients like omega-3’s that can be difficult to find elsewhere if a crisis strikes.

6. Chickens are fun! – I can’t write a post on raising chickens without mentioning how entertaining they are! It’s a blast (especially for our two-year-old) to watch them peck around the yard, scurrying from here to there. And I just LOVE that my son gets to see where his food comes from!

So there you have it! Six great reasons to raise chickens. Are you ready to take the plunge and get chickens yourself? I’d highly recommend it!

Leave a comment below and tell us why YOU love keeping chickens :)


nancyw said...

We love raising chickens for the exact same reasons you do!

Anonymous said...

I love the idea but wonder about all the neighbours' cats (and ours!). Wouldn't they want to chase and eat them if they run free range around the gardens? We live in a fairly urban suburb some way out of the city and so many people have cats for pets here. How does this work for you?

Peter Skuse said...

Keep your chickens in a coop or hen house with a large fenced run, but adult hens can look after themselves and will chase off most cats :)